The number of COVID-19 cases tested positive in India crossed 170 on Wednesday. There are over 150 active cases, including the first case reported from Chandigarh and another from Kashmir Valley.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of March 18, there were 207,860 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 8,657 deaths in 166 countries.
We have been covering the developments related to the coronavirus pandemic as it unfolded. Here are answers from experts on your queries about the virus, a list of State Helpline numbers, and a map of confirmed cases in India.
The new 24/7 national helpline numbers are 1075 and 1800-112-545 and 011-23978046. Email: [email protected]
Here are the updates:
Kerala/New Delhi | 7.15 pm
One more tests positive in Kerala; Indian dies of COVID-19 in Iran
One more person tests positive for coronavirus in Kerala, taking the number of cases to 25, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on March 19.
Meanwhile, an Indian who tested positive for coronavirus has died in Iran: Ministry of External Affairs official.
Mumbai | 7.00 pm
Curbs put on roadside shops, outlets, eateries in Navi Mumbai
As part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus, the Navi Mumbai civic body issued orders closing roadside shops and commercial stores, outlets operating on footpaths and areas near crowded railway stations on alternate days till March-end, officials said.
As per the orders issued by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), these roadside shops and commercial outlets will remain open on alternate days, they said.
The civic administration is making every attempt to control crowd movement and prevent spread of the virus, the official said.
As part of measures to reduce large crowd, municipal commissioner Annasaheb Misal issued orders closing shops and commercial outlets on roadside, footpaths and near crowded stations such as CBD Belapur, Nerul, Vashi, Sanpada, Kopar Khairane, Ghansoli and Airoli on alternate days, he said.
New Delhi | 6.45 pm
Restore 4G net services in J&K to fight coronavirus: Amnesty International
Amnesty International India (AII) on Thursday urged the Centre to immediately restore high-speed 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir to help people in preparing against the spread of coronavirus.
“The responses to corona virus cannot be based on human rights violations and a lack of transparency and censorship,” the statement said.
“Complete internet shutdowns have also been imposed intermittently in certain areas in the guise of security. There is growing anxiety around the pandemic and unwarranted restrictions on content and dissemination of information only stands to add to the panic. Complete shutdowns or restricting of internet speed or access makes it difficult for people to navigate their way through a difficult time further undermining their trust in the authorities,” the statement said.
Amaravati | 6.40 pm
Tirupati Balaji temple to be shut for devotees; Malls, theatres closed in A.P.
The famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala near Tirupati and all other major temples will be out of bounds for devotees while malls and cinema halls would be closed down in Andhra Pradesh till March 31 as part of measures to check spread of coronavirus, the state government announced on Thursday.
The restrictions would come into force from Friday, Deputy Chief Minister for Medical and Health A.K. K Srinivas (Nani) said briefing reporters here after a high-level meeting on COVID-19, chaired by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The daily rituals in all these temples will, however, be performed by the priests. Only the devotees will not be allowed, he said.
New Delhi | 6.00 pm
Restaurants in Delhi to be closed until March 31
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced in New Delhi on Thursday that restaurants in the national capital would not be allowed to serve clients on their respective premises but would be allowed to continue take-away and home delivery services.
The decision was taken at a meeting between Mr. Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal to review measures taken against the COVID-19 epidemic in the city.
“All restaurants and eateries to remain closed except delivery and takeaways. Provision of mobile vans with essential commodities of daily use and essential medical items at various residential areas being explored,” Mr. Baijal tweeted.
The suspension of all non essential services of government till further orders was also decided upon at the meeting, Raj Niwas stated.
— Jatin Anand
Chandigarh| 5.50 pm
Punjab to suspend public transport from March 20 midnight
The Punjab government on Thursday announced suspension of public transport services from the midnight of March 20 (Friday), besides restricting public gatherings to less than 20 in the State. It has also decided to shut marriage palaces, hotels, restaurants, banquets and dining places, except home delivery services and takeaways in the entire State. Public transport buses, tempos and auto rickshaws will be suspended from the midnight of Friday, Local Bodies Minister Brahm Mohindra said.
The decisions were taken in a meeting of the seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM), formed by the Punjab government to review the situation triggered by the coronavirus outbreak on a daily basis. The GoM also decided to restrict the public gathering to 20. Earlier, it was restricted to 50 people. The Minister further said that the exams of Classes X and XII of the Punjab School Education Board have been postponed till March 31.
All Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, senior superintendent of police have been directed not to leave their stations, the Minister said.
Islamabad | 5.40 pm
Pakistan closes Wagah border with India for two weeks amid coronavirus scare
Pakistan announced on March 19 to close down Wagah border with India for two weeks as the number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 341. The country’s Interior Ministry, through a notification, said that it closed the key border point with India “for an initial period of two weeks with immediate effect”. It said the measure was taken to “prevent the spread of COVID-19, in the best interest of both the countries”.
Pakistan’s western border with Iran and Afghanistan had already been closed to curb the spread of the deadly virus which had infected people in more than 150 countries.
New Delhi | 5.30 pm
India bans entry of all international commercial passenger flights from March 22 to March 29
The Government of India issued the following notification in an official statement:
- No scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft shall be allowed to land in India from March 22, 2020 for one week.
- State Governments shall issue appropriate directions so that all citizens above 65 (other than for medical assistance) except for public representatives/govt. servants/medical professionals are advised to remain at home.
- Similarly all children below 10 should be advised to stay at home and not to venture out.
- Railways and civil aviation shall suspend all concessional travel except for students, patients and divyang category.
- States are being requested to enforce work for home for pvt sector employees except those working in emergency/essential services.
- To reduce crowding all Group B and C Central govt. employees will be asked to A attend offices on alternate week and staggered timings for all employees.
New Delhi | 5.20 pm
Highlights from the MEA press meet on coronavirus:
“Crisis like this knows no borders and you need regional and international cooperation. PM Modi made several proposals and we are moving very fast on these. The emergency fund is up and running. SAARC countries have asked us for masks, gloves, medicines… Total requests have crossed $1 million.
“SAARC Foreign Secretaries, Health Secretaries will hold conference calls shortly.”
On Indians stranded abroad: “Given the gravity of situation we couldn’t allow all OCIs/Indians to return. The advisory is to travel as little as possible. Our Missions are trying to reach out to them.”
“Given gravity of situation we couldn’t allow all OCIs/Indians to return. The advisory is to travel as little as possible. Our Missions are trying to reach out to them.
“We have reviewed the action taken by countries, and decided to take Japan off from the list of travel restrictions.
“Situation in Iran is very severe, and we are deciding our response on bringing Indians who are stranded there… Some are negative, some are positive. In the past week we have evacuated 590 Indians from Iran. We believe in times to come those who are infected will recover and we will repatriate them.
“Our Missions have many challenges and are making arrangements for Indians stranded in the face of a complex environment.”
“Let us assure you, those who have tested negative will be brought back. However many flights are required… Whether it is 1 flight or 2 flights. For those who are positive, there is a different protocol.
“If those who are stranded stay in touch with Missions, take help from the local communities they will be fine.
“In the case of Indian nationals stranded abroad, it is safer for them to stay there. They may have no symptoms but could develop them later. So we have to be careful about spreading them around.
“Some airlines have implemented the embargoes wrongly and left Indians stranded in transit. We are looking into this case by case.
“We have brought back all who wanted to from Singapore. People in Manila are being facilitated by the local mission and situation under control. We are receiving reports of Indians stranded in London and Schiphol, but no confirmed information.
On evacuations from Italy: “Indian medical team got back 380 samples, out of which 376 was negative while four were positive.”
“The next batch of evacuations will be from Iran. A large number of those have tested negative and we will be trying to bring them back soon.”
On Indians in Qom: “Adequate care was taken to analyse samples of pilgrims there. We have separated those who are negative and positive. Things are now quite controlled and people are recovering.”
— Suhasini Haidar
Gurugram | 5.10 pm
Two women test positive in Gurugram
Two women, including a 22-year-old studying at the United Kingdom, have tested positive for COVID-19 in Gurugram. It took the total number of positive cases in Gurugram to four.
Chief Medical Officer, Gurugram, J.S. Punia, told The Hindu that the student had tested positive for COVID-19 and the samples of her three family members were also been taken for examination.
In the second case, the 42-year-old wife of a COVID-19 patient has tested positive. Her husband had returned from the UK on March 7.
Colombo | 4.55 pm
Sri Lanka postpones parliamentary polls
Sri Lanka on Thursday indefinitely postponed parliamentary elections that were scheduled for next month in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chair of the Election Commission, Mahinda Deshapriya, said the polls scheduled for April 25 cannot be held as planned due to the prevailing situation over the coronavirus outbreak in the country
The new date will be announced after March 25 and depends on how quickly the virus can be tackled,” Deshapriya told reporters.
Punjab | 4.15 p.m.
Punjab reports first coronavirus death
Punjab has reported its first case of coronavirus death, after a 70-year old man died at civil hospital in Banga town of Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar district.
The deceased had arrived from Germany via Italy at Delhi airport on March 7, and proceeded to the State the same day. He was a known case of diabetes and hypertension, and was confirmed as COVID positive on March 18, said an official statement on Thursday.
Cautioning of a worsening COVID-19 crisis in the country, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh the central government to allow private hospitals and labs to conduct tests in order to ensure access to all the people, even as the state reported its first case of Corona death.
Chennai | 4.15 pm
One more tests positive in Chennai
A 21-year-old student from Dublin, Ireland has tested positive for COVID-19. He is being teated at Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital. Health minister VijayaBhaskar said the student arriveed at Chennai airport on March 17. He was screened and home quarantined.
His test results came today.
With this, the number of cases in Tamil Nadu rose to three. One person has recovered.
Central govt asks 50% of its staff to work from home
The Centre on Thursday decided to allow 50 per cent of its employees to work from home and the remaining to attend office every day besides implementing different time slots for working hours, in its effort to further check the spread of coronavirus.
The Heads of Department (HoDs) may ensure that 50 per cent of Group B and C employees are required to attend office every day and the remaining 50 per cent staff should be instructed to work from home, a Personnel Ministry order said.
Further, the working hours for all employees who attend office on a particular day should be staggered, the order said.
Chennai | 2.00 pm
Deserted streets of Chennai
The ever-crowded T.Nagar, a commercial hub of Chennai, wore a deserted look as all shops were shut down as a preventive measure.
Panaji | 1.50 pm
Goa to screen domestic travellers at airport
Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Thursday announced that domestic travellers arriving at the state’s Dabolim airport will also be screened for coronavirus infection.
“There is a possibility that some coronavirus infected persons may travel on domestic flights. We want to screen all travellers who come through the airport,” he said.
Mumbai | 1.40 pm
Mumbai’s ‘dabbawalas’ to suspend services till month-end
Mumbai’s famed tiffin suppliers, the dabbawalas, on Thursday said they are suspending their services till March 31 in view of the coronavirus situation.
Subhash Talekar, spokesperson of Mumbai Dabbawala Association on said the service will remain suspended from Friday as a precautionary measure.
Mumbai | 1.30 pm
6 Singapore-returned persons de-boarded from train in Mumbai
Six passengers having stamped as ‘Home Quarantine’ on their hands, as they came from Singapore, were found in today’s 19015 Saurashtra Exp leaving Mumbai Central at 8.20 am. They were deboarded at Borivali station as they boarded this train from Mumbai Central for Vadodara. On board Dy Ticket Inspector informed the control room at Mumbai Central. The station superintendent and a docto attended and passengers were de-boarded at Borivali.
Mumbai | 12.35 pm
Uddhav Thackeray urges people to stay at home
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urged people of his State to stay at home and avoid public transport such as trains and buses.
“This is a different type of war going on,” says Mr. Thackeray. “This is war against virus.”
The entire govt machinery is working on war foot for people. We are telling you to stay inside, don’t travel and these people are working 24 hours for you, he said.
Virus is marching ahead, cases are growing… It is important to lessen the load on govt machinery… They are humans too, Mr. Thackeray said. Please avoid bus and trains. We can together defeat this virus, he added.
Mr. Thackeray said he spoke to people stranded in Singapore and arrangements will be made for their return. They would be quarantined and if needed, isolated.
A 22-year-old woman with travel history to the UK and a 49-year-old woman with travel history to Dubai have tested positive of Thursday taking the Maharashtra count to 47.
Curbs imposed in Srinagar after detection of first case
The Srinagar administration on March 19 imposed restrictions on the movement of locals and halted public transport, a day after a 65-year-old woman was detected as the first person who tested positive for COVID-19 in the Kashmir region.
These restrictions saw concertina wires being set up on the main roads leading to Srinagar’s Khanyar, the area where the patient hails from. Many parts of the commercial hub Lal Chowk also witnessed regulation of traffic by a huge deployment of security personnel.
Locals said they were facing a lockdown as the security forces were not allowing them to move around freely
Ferozepur division of Northern Railways suspends several train services
The cancelled trains are Delhi Sarai Rohilla and Pathankot (from March 18 to March 30); New Delhi to Ferozepur Cantt and Ferozepur to New Delhi (from March 20 to March 29); and Jabalpur to Atari (from March 21 to March 28); Attari-Jabalpur (from March 22 and 29); Jabalpur-Attari weekly express (from March 24 to 31); Attari-Jabalpur weekly express (from March 25 and April 1).
ISC and ICSE examinations scheduled between March 19 and 31 March postponed. The revised dates will be announced later said a press release from the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations
11.00 am | Andhra Pradesh
Second positive case in Andhra Pradesh
A second positive case has been reported in the State, this time from Prakasm district. According to a bulletin issued by it Thursday morning, a person belonging to Prakasam tested positive, from among 13 identified in the district with COVID symptoms.
Special chief secretary K.S. Jawahar Reddy stated in the latest bulletin that total 883 persons have been identified so far for observation, 254 completed the observation, three are in home isolation and four admitted to hospitals. Of the 109 samples tested till date, two turned positive and the results of 13 samples is awaited.
10.45 am | Karnataka
One more positive case in Karnataka
One more positive case has been reported from Karnataka. The new case is the first from Kodagu. With this the total count of confirmed cases in Karnataka has touched 15, including the person who succumbed to the disease.
While more details of the case are yet to be revealed by the State Health Department, Health Minister B. Sriramulu tweeted on Thursday morning that the person had returned from Saudi Arabia and has now been quarantined in a designated isolated facility.
10 am| Chandigarh
Chandigarh reports first confirmed case
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 has been reported in Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana. The condition of the patient is, however, ‘stable’, a senior official said on March 19.
“A 23-year-old woman, who recently returned from the United Kingdom, has tested positive for COVID-19,” B.S. Chavan, Director-Principal of the Government Medical College and Hospital at Sector-32 here, told The Hindu.
10 am | Mumbai
Railways cancels 84 more trains; 155 trains cancelled till March 31
Railways cancelled 84 more trains, which will not operate between March 20 and March 31 in view of coronavirus and low occupancy, officials said.
With this, the total number of cancelled trains has climbed to 155.
The national transporter had cancelled around 99 trains on Wednesday night.
“All passengers having tickets in these trains are being informed about it individually,” the official said.
9.30 am | China
No new domestic coronavirus cases for first time, says China
For the first time after the deadly coronavirus broke out about three months ago in Wuhan, China on Thursday said that no new domestic cases of the COVID-19 were confirmed, including in the virus’ epicentre, even as eight more fatalities have been reported, taking the death toll in the country to 3,245.
China’s National Health Commission (NHC) in its daily report said that no new domestically transmitted cases of the novel coronavirus disease were reported on the Chinese mainland on Wednesday.
Kerala’s temple festivals go lean, cut down on celebrations
Temple festivals in the State have assumed a sombre note. The characteristic gaiety and razzmatazz that mark such celebrations have given way to an abiding caution to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages about 1,200 temples, has taken the lead in observing the protocol set by the government. The board has issued a circular to the temple advisory committees comprising mostly residents in each locale to suspend all cultural programmes and mass feasts held as part of the festivals till normalcy returns.
Ministry wants curbs on public transport
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has advised all States and Union Territories to take necessary steps to contain the spread of COVID-19 by restricting public transport. Refunds may be provided for advance bookings to passengers, a Ministry statement said on March 18.
First member of U.S. Congress tests positive
U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart said on March 18 he has tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first member of Congress known to have contracted the virus.
Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, said in a statement he has been self-quarantining in Washington since Friday and had not returned home to South Florida because his wife’s pre-existing conditions put her at exceptionally high risk.
Also read: Data | COVID-19 is deadliest for the elderly
Modi to address the nation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on March 19 evening on the situation arising out of coronavirus outbreak and the efforts to combat it, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
“PM Shri @narendramodi will address the nation on 19th March 2020 at 8 PM, during which he will talk about issues relating to COVID-19 and the efforts to combat it,” the PMO tweeted.
CBSE postpones class 10, 12 board exams till March 31
The Central Board of Secondary Education has postponed ongoing class 10, 12 examinations till March 31 in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
“All ongoing CBSE examinations in India and abroad postponed till March 31 and will be rescheduled thereafter… after an assessment of the situation,” CBSE Secretary Anurag Tripathi said.
“All ongoing evaluation work will be suspended during the period,” he added.
The CBSE announcement came following a directive from the HRD ministry saying exams are important but safety and security of students and teachers is equally important.
HRD Ministry’s NTA postpones JEE for IIT, engineering college admissions
The Joint Entrance Exam (JEE-Main) for admission to IITs and engineering colleges has been postponed in view of coronavirus, according to the HRD Ministry’s National Testing Agency (NTA). The exam was earlier scheduled from April 5-11.
“The JEE-Main exam has been postponed. The new date will be decided in accordance with the board exams schedule and other competitive exams to ensure there is no clash,” a senior NTA official said.
Jammu and Kashmir
Kashmir records its first case of coronavirus: Officials
The Kashmir Valley on March 18 recorded its first positive case for novel coronavirus in Srinagar, mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation Junaid Azim Mattu said. “I have been informed a short while ago that #Srinagar has had its first positive case for #Covid2019. It’s a congested area in the city interiors. We have to be transparent to convey the gravity of the challenge and also seek serious measures and responsible behaviour,” Mr. Mattu said in a series of tweets.